Our European ‘friends’… that’s what Boris Johnson says if they’ve got on his wick: HENRY DEEDES on the Prime Minister’s attempts to calm nerves over the vaccine jab

Put away your worry beads, people. Keep cool, stay calm, no need to panic! Boris Johnson was in Red Adair mode at yesterday’s Downing Street briefing, dampening flames and putting out fires caused by the latest hullaballoo over the vaccine roll out.

These stories about the AstraZeneca jab causing people to conk out due to blood clots? Hogwash, tripe and onions. It was perfectly safe.

The only clots were the Merkels and Macrons casting aspersions over it. In fact, Boris was so confident in the so-called ‘Oxford shot’, he is getting his arm jabbed with a whole spike full of it today. 

Boris Johnson was in Red Adair mode at yesterday’s Downing Street briefing, dampening flames and putting out fires caused by the latest hullaballoo over the vaccine roll out

Please God, make him keep his shirt on! To our ‘European friends’ who’ve been spouting this garbage he had a message: Even their own European Medicines Agency has declared the vaccine tip top and tickety boo.

Note that use of the word ‘friends’ there. As something of an expert on Johnson linguistics, I’ve come to realise he addresses people that way when they’re getting on his wick. Just as he refers to ‘our friends in the media’ when we’ve particularly irritated him.

Oh, and as for that talk about vaccine shortages? It was true, there might be a lag next month due to supply issues in India but it wasn’t going to delay our route to freedom. 

‘We remain on target,’ said the PM. Cue pub landlords up and down the country letting out collective sigh of relief.

It was perfectly safe. The only clots were the Merkels and Macrons casting aspersions over it. In fact, Boris was so confident in the so-called ‘Oxford shot’, he is getting his arm jabbed with a whole spike full of it today

For some reason, our setting remains that drab Downing Street dining room. Not sure why these things haven’t yet moved to that fancy new bells-and-whistles briefing room (cost: £2.6million). Perhaps Carrie’s still fiddling about with the feng shui.

Joining the PM was Professor Chris Whitty, who was less fretful than usual but still unlikely to be mistaken for a sunbeam. His ally in anguish, Sir Patrick Vallance, had been dropped from the line-up. 

In his place we had Dr June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. No sign of that wretched slide machine. With any luck it’s on the fritz.

We hadn’t seen Dr Raine before. She had a pleasantly soothing manner. Voice like a vicar. She’d peered under the microscope herself at the AstraZeneca vaccine and seen nowt wrong with it. 

Though she advised if you were experiencing a constant headache four days after your inoculation, you should probably seek medical advice. Four days?! Not even Gazza’s hangovers last that long. 

We had a brief moment of fun during Press questions when a Times hack asked what role the Indian government had played in the delay.

Boris practically sprawled over the lectern in a panic to insist the delay was for practical reasons. No, no, the Indians have been wonderful, he said. 

Clearly fretting about causing a diplomatic incident ahead of his visit there next month. Shame. The foot-in-gob Boris of old was far more exciting.

We hadn’t seen Dr Raine before. She had a pleasantly soothing manner. Voice like a vicar. She’d peered under the microscope herself at the AstraZeneca vaccine and seen nowt wrong with it 

Earlier, Matt Hancock had come to the Commons to make a statement about vaccines. 

Perhaps he was having a rare off-day, but I couldn’t help think some of the stuffing had been knocked out Mr Hancock after Dominic Cummings dissed him so in front of the science and technology committee on Wednesday. Dom had egregiously branded the Department of Health a ‘smoking ruin’.

The boing appeared to have gone out of the Health Secretary’s spring. Boyish sheen had dissolved into something milkier. And his voice had turned all papery. 

If this was because he’d spent Wednesday evening hurling a few choice expletives down the blower at his unelected tormentor, could we have blamed him?

Mr Hancock found an unlikely ally in Labour’s Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) who clearly regarded Cummings a fairly uncouth piece of work. 

Sheerman told the House that Cummings’ public savaging of Hancock was proof he ‘did not always get the support he needed from No10, and from Dominic Cummings in particular.’ 

Hancock reacted bashfully to Barry’s unexpected show of support. But as for Barry’s suggestion that he’d been hung out to dry like last week’s undergarments, Hancock certainly did not demur.

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